Downfield 4, Arbroath Vics 1.
Arbroath Vics continued their league programme with an away match against Downfield on Saturday.
Manager Jake Ferrier made just the one enforced change to the side that beat Newburgh the previous week; Craig Stephen returning at the expense of Matty Johnston, who had dislocated his shoulder against the Fife side.
With several games in hand, Downfield were still handily placed to win a promotion spot, but their hopes of winning the title depended on them winning all of their games and Dundee North End failing to win their remaining two.
The match kicked off with Vics having the advantage of a gale force wind that was blowing straight down the park.
Stephen broke from defence for Vics in the second minute and played the ball down the right to Abdourahman Njie before taking the return and sending a cross into the box, which the wind caused havoc with before it was headed behind for a corner.
Downfield showed that the wind was not going to be a hindrance to them when Patrick Brown picked up a loose ball in midfield and drove forward before firing a shot just over the bar.
Craig Watson almost gave Vics an eighth-minute lead with a spectacular overhead kick, which just cleared the bar, leaving ‘keeper Gary Thain rooted to his line.
At the other end, Gavin Hood sent the ball along the 18-yard line where Leigh Esposito came charging in to drive a shot over the top.
Ross Kenny almost took advantage of a mix-up in the Downfield defence when the ball broke into his path and his shot took a deflection and spun behind for a corner.
Soon after, it was Downfield’s turn to come close. Dale Hart chased a Patrick Brown ball to the goalline and cut it back into the middle for Scott Reynolds, whose shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of Lee Hutcheson before Vics managed to scramble it behind for a corner.
Vics’ reprieve was only temporary as in the 19thBrown played the ball up to Hood who in turn cut it back from the by-line for NIK MANN to fire beyond the reach of Hutcheson.
Within a minute, Vics were almost back on level terms when the Downfield defence were unable to deal with a Stephen throw-in and Watson fired off a shot which crashed off the bar and flew over.
Scott Reynolds came close to grabbing a second goal for the home side when a good move up the right opened Vics up allowing him a shooting chance which the number 11 sent just wide.
In the 26th minute, a corner just eluded Kevin Durno and Watson, coming in behind, got in a header, which was cleared off the line.
Four minutes later Hutcheson upended Hood inside the box. David McLeish was booked for dissent before HOOD calmly stroked in the spot-kick.
Downfield were hungry to add to their lead and the news that Luncarty were leading North End spurred them on, and they had Vics on the back foot for the remainder of the half but had to settle for a two goal margin at the break.
Half-time: Downfield 2, Arbroath Vics 0.
The Spiders were quickly buzzing around Vics’ goal with the wind now in their favour and Terry Connell sent a shot into the side-netting in the first minute of the second half.
Vics were awarded a free-kick in a promising position when Watson was barged over by Mark Ferrie just outside the box, but David McLeish’s free-kick was blocked by the wall.
In the 53rd minute, Vics were back in the game thanks to an error from Downfield ‘keeper Thain.
There seemed little danger when Patrick Brown played the ball back to him, but the ‘keeper completely missed his kick and WATSON took full advantage to knock it behind him and run the ball into the empty net. The goal seemed to give Vics new belief and the ‘keeper partially redeemed himself in Vics’ next attack when he got above Ross Kenny to pluck a Stephen cross off of his head.
Three minutes later, Craig Sturrock crossed into the box and Njie got on the end of it to send a header spiralling under the bar, but Garry Thain was able to hold on to it.
Hutcheson had to be on his toes when Sturrock took out Mann and Scott Reynolds thundered in a wind assisted free-kick, which the ‘keeper did well to hold under the bar.
Downfield then made a couple of substitutions, sending on Nicky Deuchars for Hood and then Kit Bremner for Scott Reynolds.
Mann was next to have a go for Downfield picking up a loose ball and driving a shot just wide of the target.
Downfield did increase their lead, and a disastrous last couple of minutes saw Vics down to 10 men and Downfield score twice.
David McLeish was sent packing for dissent as Downfield were awarded a corner, and from the flag-kick, CHRIS SIMPSON saw the ball come off his head and fly into the net for an own goal.
A minute into time added on, Downfield got another break when NICKY DEUCHARS sent a shot goalwards after his initial free-kick had been blocked and his second attempt took a wicked deflection completely wrong footing Hutcheson as it ran into the net.
The win keeps Downfield in with a chance of securing promotion, but their hopes of winning the title were dashed when Dundee North End came from behind to beat Luncarty 2-1 to win the title.
Arbroath Vics: Hutcheson, Colin Lawson (Simpson 82), Sturrock, Stephen, Durno, Cowa, Kenny (Hester 72), Njie (Mowatt 78), Watson, McLeish, Warren. Referee: Mr. M. McIlvenny (Dundee).
Yellow cards: Downfield: None. Vics: David McLeish. Red cards: Downfield: None. Vics: David McLeish.
Vics are again out of town when they travel into Fife to meet Lochore Welfare in the league. Kick-off is at 2.30 p.m. and transport leaves Ogilvy Park at 12.15 p.m.
Winners this week were:£10 – No. 147 Audrey Donald. £5 – No. 99 Diane Christie.
MCBOOKIE.COM EAST NORTH LEAGUE
P W L D F A Pts
Dundee NE 29 23 4 2 107 31 73
Star Hearts 26 17 1 8 83 44 52
Blairgowrie 26 16 1 9 68 39 49
Forfar WE 25 15 2 8 74 40 47
Newburgh 23 13 6 4 74 39 45
Luncarty 24 14 1 9 72 45 43
Downfield 21 13 4 4 49 30 43
Arbroath Vics 27 11 5 11 64 68 38
Scone Thistle 25 11 2 12 55 64 35
Lochore Welfare 23 10 4 9 44 49 34
Thornton Hibs 22 10 3 9 65 49 33
East Craigie 24 10 13 54 44 31
Brechin Vics 27 7 2 18 31 62 23
Lochee Harp 26 5 4 17 5 76 19
Forfar Albion 29 4 0 25 37 128 12
Coupar Angus 21 0 0 21 111 132 0